Saturday, November 28, 2009

BIBJ Playlist of the 2000s entry #71: Irreplaceable by Beyonce

Pop music is, of course, littered with abhorrent trends.  But none irritate me more than the "art" of the vocal run, wherein a singer shows off his or her "talent" by attempting to hit somewhere between 3 and 87 notes within a single syllable.  I don't understand how anyone can possibly enjoy listening to such horrors.  Everyone knows that Christina Aguilera can sing.  Does that mean we have to just sit back and take the abuse while she goes on her perpetual quest for the damn brown note?

The quest for vocal histrionics has become a bizarre American Idol-like litmus test.  Who gives a rat's ass if you can sing.  Can you sing in 4 different octaves and annoy the shit out of anyone within ear shot?  Yes?  Then welcome to the music biz kid!***  No?  Then take your played-out act back to that karaoke hell from whence you came, MC Borophyll.  And don't even think about ever singing the National Anthem before a World Series game.

This thesis doesn't simply apply to vocals.  It fits for production and instrumentation as well, and as such I tend to be split right down the middle on the majority of Beyonce's catalog.   That high-pitched Nintendo-esque sound effect that permeates most of "Single Ladies" annoys the shit out of me, but tracks like "Halo," "If I Were a Boy," and especially "Irreplaceable" thrive with their simplicity and restraint. It's oddly refreshing to hear an R&B track where the producers haven't made it their main focus to reinvent the wheel, and the singer actually keeps the melody in check.  If Mariah Carey sang this song (and if people still recognized Mariah Carey songs) she would manage to mangle it in four different octaves. 

In addition, I love the video appearance of the 12-woman band for a song that seems to feature a bare minimum of instruments.  I can't even hear a bass in the audio track, yet there's women toting bongos and saxophones.  Apparenty two live dummers = one click track.  The more you know. 

***NOTE:  Even if you do manage to kill small rodents with high-pitched vocal runs, we still won't turn a blind eye to receiving simulated head on stage during the AMAs.  Especially if you're just the Idol runner-up.  Rules are rules.

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